Dick tells me that he’d like a change from always discussing movies in the Roundtable. So this one is for him, and for all the gamers out there. Simple question: What’s your favorite videogame of all time?
Any platform or system is fair game. Since Dick suggested the topic, we’ll let him lead things off.
- ‘Super Mario World‘ – My favorite game of all time is also what I consider to be the best game ever made. The ‘Mario’ series has always been a strong one, but there’s nothing before or after that beats out ‘Super Mario World.’ I’ve never been one to get sucked into the story of a game or become fascinated with the cutscenes. For me, it’s all about how the game plays, and nothing out there plays better than ‘Super Mario World.’ It has the most responsive controls of any of the 2-D Mario games, and the level design is second to none. ‘World’ has a huge advantage over the earlier numbered Mario games, including the highly praised ‘Super Mario Bros. 3.’ Thanks to a save system and a friendly ramp up in difficulty, even casual players can beat ‘Super Mario World.’ That’s not to say that the game is easier, though, since there are plenty of extra challenges like the Star Road and Special World. I also want to call out the music in this game as particularly good. The entire game is filled with fantastic tunes, but the ending theme is a favorite of mine. It’s some of Koji Kondo’s finest work. I’ve played through ‘A Link to the Past,’ ‘Chrono Trigger,’ and ‘Final Fantasy VI’ a few times – and I’ve put tons of time into ‘Borderlands,’ ‘World of Warcraft’ and now ‘StarCraft II’ – but ‘Super Mario World’ is always my go-to when I need something to play. I’ve beaten it, in full, on the SNES, emulators, and GameBoy Advance more times than I can recollect. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect game, since any form of entertainment is subjective. If you want to find the closest thing, it’s ‘Super Mario World.’
- ‘Mega Man‘ – I don’t pretend to be much of a gamer. Sure, I’ve got a PS3, and exactly three games for it, one of which I’ve never removed from the shrinkwrap. I use the console mostly as a Blu-ray player. I have an original Xbox that I haven’t powered on in about two years. Of the 20-ish games I ever collected for that, only about ¼ of them were ever played to completion. I find most modern videogames far too complicated, what with the 75 different buttons and triggers on their control pads. I’m old, is what I’m saying. So when I do fall in the mood for a videogame, I have to go old school – NES. I still have one hooked up in my home theater. No emulator for me, I’ve still got my original NES purchased circa 1987, and it still works great. Of all my favorite 8-bit games, none trump the ‘Mega Man’ series. When I first realized that not only did you get to collect the powers of the enemies you defeat, but there’s also an ideal order to beat them in, well, that just blew my 7th Grade mind. I have all six ‘Mega’ games for the NES, as well as the Anniversary compilation released for the Xbox. Arguments can be made that ‘Mega Man 2’ was the best of the franchise, but I still have to side with the original. It’s a perfect de-stresser. I can play it to completion in a couple hours without losing a life, I know it so well. Its familiarity is like a warm and cozy blanket. But it has to be on the NES. Of the hundreds of times I’ve played this game, I’ve never once managed to get past that Rock monster in Dr. Wily’s lair without using the pause-unpause trick with the Elec-beam. I swear to god, it just can’t be done. The Xbox version disabled that cheat, which effectively makes the last stage of the game impossible.
- ‘Tetris‘ – We may have blown past them in the Space Race and shuttered them during the Cold War, but the Russians have us beat on one front: the addictive, block-based puzzle game. I speak, of course, of ‘Tetris.’ The fiendishly clever game was developed by Alexey Pajitnov and first unleashed in the USSR in 1984. It was later delivered to North America in 1989. (The original box art proclaimed: “From Russia With Fun!”) It should say something that any puzzle game of note in the last twenty years has, in some part, been aping ‘Tetris.’ Things like ‘Bejeweled’ and ‘Meteos’ are riffs on the same essential gameplay: match up similar colors, and the blocks go bye-bye. I distinctly remember a car ride from Dallas to San Antonio when I was knee high to a grasshopper. I had the original Gameboy (that big gray block), and I played a single game of the original ‘Tetris’ for the entire drive. Of course, this is an embellished remembrance. (I just Google mapped the ride and it’s an almost 5 hour drive.) But I think that, if given the challenge, I would gladly attempt it today. I can still hear the original music – tinny but unforgettable, as solid and powerful as the gameplay itself.
- ‘Crazy Taxi‘ – Two words: ‘Crazy Taxi.’ Six more words: Crazy taxi crazy taxi crazy taxi!!! I don’t really play videogames – my mind wanders, my eyes glaze over. I’ve just never had the game bug. But I love, love LOVE ‘Crazy Taxi’! To me, there’s nothing better on a cool fall night than coming home from a long day in the salt mines and tossin’ on the ole ‘Crazy Taxi.’ I think of myself as a good driver, even if I do have corneal problems and a penchant for over-consumption of caffeine, but there’s just something about a game that awards points for faster, wilder, borderline psychotic rides that hits my funny bone in a very special way. Why isn’t this out for the PS3 or Xbox? Why?! I must have it. I must. Which reminds me, time to take the ole Dreamcast outta mothballs and fire this sucker up, just in time for September. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahhhhh!
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
- ‘Rock Band 2‘ – If I were writing this a few months down the line, there’s a pretty good chance my answer would be ‘Rock Band 3’… But hey! That’s not out yet, so I’ll have to side with ‘Rock Band 2′ instead. Part of the reason is kind of a shameful admission. See, I have an entire room in my house that’s filled with nothing but musical instruments – racks of guitars and basses, two Moog synthesizers, a banjo, an accordion, an electric kazoo (!), and the list keeps rambling on and on from there – and I can’t play a single one of ’em. Music didn’t get to be a big part of my life until the tail-end of my teens, and by that point, I was just a bit too lazy to learn how to play an instrument. I keep gobbling up new instruments with the mistaken hope that this will be the one that makes me devote the time and energy to learn, but…nope. Never happens. That’s one of the things that means so much to me about the ‘Rock Band’ franchise. As wholly incompetent as I am with all of my real instruments, this game still gives me a way to connect with songs I love. Plastic instruments trump air guitar and air drums any day, and I can’t think of anything I’ve attacked in three decades of gaming that’s as much of a multiplayer blast as the ‘Rock Band’ series. The diversity of the songs built into the game, the massive quantities of downloadable content that helps keep it all feeling fresh, the online play, the way I can tailor everything to my skill level and my tastes… I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve put more time into the four ‘Rock Band’ games out now than every other game across all platforms from this generation combined. I’m more excited about ‘Rock Band 3’ than anything else on the horizon right now. And…hey, with all those new Pro gaming modes, instructional tools, and fully-functional instruments, maybe it’ll teach me how to do at least a little something with all those guitars and synths downstairs.
Your turn now. Tell us your favorite game of all time in the comments.